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N495m Debt: UCH Doctors Suspend Night Shift, begin Strike Over Disconnection From IBEDC


The University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, has admitted that it owes the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company up to N495m, for which reason the teaching hospital was disconnected from public power supply.

This was as doctors, nurses, and other staff of the hospital refused to work beyond 4.00 pm unless power is reconnected.

UCH Public Relations Officer, Mrs Funmilayo Adetuyibi, confirmed in an interview with The PUNCH Tuesday that the hospital’s electricity debt was over N400m, contrary to her initial claim.

Recall that the UCH was disconnected by the IBEDC on March 19, the third time in less than two months.

Giving reasons for the disconnection, the Ibadan DisCo said it disconnected the hospital after attempts to engage with the hospital’s management regarding the N495m debt, which it said had persisted for over six years.

But the UCH spokesperson had last week denied owing N495m, saying the current UCH administration, led by Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, assumed office on March 1, 2019, and inherited over N27m as of February 27, 2019.

She added that it had since ensured the monthly payment of bills brought by IBEDC.

However, when Adetuyibi was contacted on Tuesday that the IBEDC spokesperson, Busolami Tunwase, had insisted that the debt was N495m, she admitted that there was an error while writing her initial rejoinder.

Adetuyibi said the hospital needed help to settle the debt, stating that it was soliciting funds.

“The truth of the matter is that we are owing IBEDC and we need help. Help is the main thing. We are soliciting for funds; help is what we need.

“The amount is N495m; leave it at N495m. There was an error while we were sending the rejoinder, which I rectified and sent the corrected version. So, let’s leave all these and let’s look for help.

“That’s what we actually need. It’s the help that we need,” she said in a phone conversation.

Meanwhile, workers in the hospital had embarked on what they called down-scaling, working from 8.00am to 4.00pm every day until power was restored.

The worker also threatened to go on a seven-day strike if the hospital was not reconnected before Tuesday, April 9.

The Joint Action Committee Chairman, Oludayo Olabampe, told Punch correspondent exclusively that this would affect patients on admission and as no one would be available to attend to them in the evening.

Olabampe noted that those on admission would need to be discharged, and there would be no new admissions for now.

“From today (Tuesday), we will be ending our services by 4.00pm. Our services will be only between 8.00am and 4.00pm; no call duties, no shift duties, and no 24-hour services until when power is restored. From downscaling, we will go on a seven-day warning strike after a 14-day ultimatum that started counting on March 27.

“This will affect patients on admission because the nurses that attend to patients in the ward will close by 4.00pm. Imagine leaving the patients to be on their own from 4.00pm till 8.00 am. So, there won’t be further admission and those on admission now will have to be discharged. Also know that from 4 pm upward, if there are patients in the theatre for surgery and there is the need for blood, if you get to the blood bank, nobody will attend to you after 4 pm.

“If you need one test or the other, you won’t meet anybody in the laboratory. Radiographers will not be available, and even the dietitians who will be in charge of their meals will not be there for dinner. By now, I expect that whoever is having children in the incubator has tried to transfer them to where there is a better power supply,” he said.

Olabampe joined the hospital in seeking help to offset the N495m bill, saying “UCH does not have the money to pay the debt”.

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